Industry Views - May 2012

The Power Of One

On May 8, 2012, the New York Chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) presented its bi-annual Circle of Excellence Awards that recognize luminaries in the interior design and furnishings business to: Interior Design: Charlotte Moss, LLC, Education: Bard Graduate Center, Industry Resource & Product Design: Kravet, Inc. and Media: Hearst Design Group.

As the IFDA celebrates its 65th anniversary, also recognized was Claire Coleman (shown below), IFDA founder, and former owner of Coleman Communications, a public relations agency specializing in serving home furnishings companies. LDB Interior Textiles caught up with Claire to garner her thoughts on how it all began and more:

Q: How did you come to start the IFDA?

“I was a reporter for Retailing Home Furnishings (now known as HFN). I joined it right out of college and was there about three months.

“A salesman for a certain company told me about a market dinner [the Men’s Curtain & Drapery Club dinner], but said, ‘You can’t come; it’s only for men.’

“Oh well, I thought, we [women] will have our own. There were six of us women in the industry who met for lunch at the Chesapeake House on Madison Avenue and that was the beginning of what we called the National Home Fashions League.

“Women had such little impact in 1947 and the home furnishings industry had little impact itself—there was little sense of style. The league was formed to raise the professional level of women as well as the furnishings industry.

“After that first lunch, we had another meeting with about 13 people, then another with 32 and the organization kept growing.

“The IFDA has done a lot of things to expand the role of home furnishings in style and fashion, and to educate professionals in the industry as well as its members. The organization is unique in that it represents not only one segment of home furnishings, but the whole gamut. And it’s for everyone involved, from manufacturers and salespeople to designers and editors.

“We eventually opened our doors to men, first as colleagues and in 1986 as full-fledged members.”

Q: It must have taken great courage to begin an organization when you were so young.

“When you are young, you think you can do anything!”

Q: What’s your hope for IFDA’s future?

“There is a dynamic in the industry that is exciting to me. I hope a lot of young people come into the field so it is carried forward from generation to generation. Mentoring is important.”

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